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9 Healthy Habits to Help You Manage Email Overload

9 Healthy Habits to Help You Manage Email Overload

    Today, having an email address has become as normal as having a surname. My seven year old son and my seventy six year old mother have email addresses. We can safely say that the email overload phenomenon is nothing new. Since 1971 we have been sending emails, but since 1971 a large percentage of us have not learned how to most effectively use email and how to avoid it becoming a cross we have to bear.

    Here are 9 healthy habits you can adopt to prevent you from suffering from the Email Overload phenomenon

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    Write better emails

    Some people treat email as an opportunity to have a chat but that is not the purpose of email. If you are arranging a meeting get to the point rather than send an email that will open up a 10 part communication consider sending an email that is concise.

    “Hi, are you free Friday at 11 to discuss the Project A? We could meet at Starbucks on the corner of Merrion Street.”

    When, where and why are all available, now all the person has to say is yes if it suits them or suggest alternative arrangements if it doesn’t.

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    Pick up the Phone

    A more efficient way to deal with arranging a meeting would be a telephone call. People often avoid making phone calls because they think it will take up too much time. Not true, arranging a time and place is much more efficient when you are speaking to someone in person, this way you can debate time and place more efficiently both parties being able to check calendars at the same time. Also if you send fewer emails you will logically receive fewer emails.

    Remove yourself

    Remove yourself from all newsletter lists, group emails etc. If you want to subscribe to email newsletters best have a dedicated email address so not to clutter up your work inbox and also to avoid them disturbing your focus and concentration.

    Chunk it up

    Check emails in chunks; don’t get tempted to check emails consistently. Smart phones and tablet devices are really awesome but they are not so cool when people start to use them to check emails at all hours of the day, I’ve even know people who check them in bed (gasp!). What you can also do is advise people that you only check your emails twice a day and if they need a reply to something urgently they should rather call you.

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    Turn it off

    Switch off all notifications of emails, on your PC and any other device that you receive email on. Never allow a ding or a bell disturb your focus from what you are working on. It may be an email telling you that you have landed a 1 million dollar deal but it could also be spam or an email from your aunt in Australia to tell you her dog is sick.

    Keep it brief

    Email is not a medium for spilling your heart out. Keep your messages brief and to the point. The less you write the more likely your question or query will be answered. Even though you want to send and receive less email it is still a better idea to send an email per topic, you are more likely to get an answer to all your questions and it also leaves a better trail if you need to find an email at a later date.

    Process your email twice a day

    When we say I have to check my email, it usually means you scan your email to see if there is anything urgent or interesting that you want to read or deal with. Checking email is the action to blame which can ultimately lead us to chaos, clutter and stress. It may seem like an exaggeration but if we let it go untended it can end up with thousands of emails sitting in you inbox without knowledge of whether they are actionable or dealt with. We need to substitute check for process. Processing is when we make a decision. We can Do, Delegate, Delete or Defer or we can use the Barabara Hemphill’s FAT method, File, Act or Trash.

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    Organize your email

    The emails you need to keep for reference should be filed in a logical system and the emails that require action should be either moved to your calendar or your task system. All those that don’t fall into these categories should be trashed.

    Get a Life

    Remember that your email doesn’t own you. You are the adult around here and you need to take control. Follow these actions advised and before long you will be hanging out in your empty Inbox wondering why you feel so calm and peaceful.

    (Photo credit: An image of some flying envelopes via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

    Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

    Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

    So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

    Joe’s Goals

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      Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

      Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

      Daytum

        Daytum

        is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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        Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

        Excel or Numbers

          If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

          What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

          Evernote

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            I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

            Evernote is free with a premium version available.

            Access or Bento

              If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

              Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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              You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

              Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

              All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

              Conclusion

              I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

              What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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